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Episode 021: A Conversation on Intentional Leadership with Miha Matlievski

a conversation on intentional leadership

Join Sarah Noll Wilson and Miha Matlievski as they discuss some of the skills and practices that help leaders show up at their best for their teams.

Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson 0:03

Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations, where each week we explore a topic to help us have better conversations with ourselves, and with each other. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson, and I’m very- I’m so excited. I am so excited for this week’s guest. So let me take a moment to introduce you to my dear friend Miha. So, Miha Mat- Mat, hold on, I’m gonna get it. Miha Matlievski, otherwise known as the “Fail Coach,” is a business coach who has forged his approach to helping entrepreneurs and business executives by using a monumental personal failure, and eventual redemption, to help get others where they need to go to find their personal success and fulfillment. So, just a little bit, I love, I love this background about you, Miha. At just 18 years old Miha, a Slovenian high school dropout, dreamed of becoming a successful entrepreneur. And he pursued it with a passion, putting in 12 years of hard work that resulted in four successful businesses. But in December of 2009, as many of us know what that time was like, with all the financial crisis, an unexpected call from the bank, which had decided to foreclose on his real estate investments, brought his world crashing down around him. That one negative event instigated an avalanche of ruin for him, his businesses, resulting in his four once-successful companies going bankrupt. He now works with entrepreneurs to help them adopt healthier mindsets, to help them not only grow their business, but strengthen their mental health as well. Welcome to the show, Miha.


Miha Matlievski 1:36

Hi, Sarah. And it’s a huge, huge pleasure to now have the opportunity to be the guest on your show.


Sarah Noll Wilson 1:42

I know!


Miha Matlievski 1:43

The tables have turned.


Sarah Noll Wilson 1:44

The tables have turned, so you know, just get ready. So, a little bit, a little bit of background, for those of you who are listening, Miha and I connected over a year, at least over a year ago.


Miha Matlievski 1:55

Yeah, at least.


Sarah Noll Wilson 1:55

And yeah, and we were connected by a mutual friend, Sharon Foulke, who’s a good, good, good friend of mine and yours. And I had the opportunity to be on his show a few times. And it was in those conversations that you know, there were some, there were some practices that Miha did, there are some ways that he approached his work that were super inspiring, which was really grounded in, you know, one, how to help leaders and entrepreneurs be really thoughtful about their mental health, you know, so often, I think we get so into the hustle and the grind of building the business and making the money, and, you know, we have to make sustainable companies, that there’s such a cost to that personally, and, and then, and then what we’ll be exploring today is- so we’ll probably dig into the mental health, but also just this idea of love in the workplace, and what does that- I mean, I just remember that conversation when you mentioned, oh, yeah, no, I used the four, the love languages in my coaching work. And I was- like, who are you? And what does this look like? And how do people respond? So go ahead. Yeah.


Miha Matlievski 2:59

No, yeah, I mean, what you just said, it’s, that it’s such a fast paced world, and we rarely take time, and we rarely look at things holistically, our own life. So, you know, you can just be successful in business, but then, you know, run around like crazy, and not taking some time off, and working on your mental health, and your mental strength, and so on. You just have to look at those things holistically. And then as a leader, as an entrapreneur, it’s so easy to just be constantly fighting fires with a team, but you have to take the time for the firehouse, you, you take me to take a step back, and just be a human being, and have a coffee with a colleague, and, and just talk about private stuff as well, and so on, and make that deeper connection with your team. Because, you know, that’s the only way for them to really connect with you and to follow you, because that’s how you build the trust, with that transparency, vulnerability, opening up, and just being a decent human being. And yeah, very often that’s so easily overlooked.


Sarah Noll Wilson 4:10

It’s, yeah, it- okay, so, there’s so many, there’s so many paths I want to go down this, but I want to, I just want to take a moment to anchor people in your journey. So I’m going to make a note of coming back to that idea of what does it look like to be a decent human being, because, you know, you and I, we, we’re passionate about similar things, even though we might approach it slightly differently, but that idea of how do we create a more human-focused, or, you know, sort of human-centered workplace, where we can show up. What else would you want people to know about you and your journey?


Miha Matlievski 4:46

Well, I mean, you summed it up pretty nicely. I mean, I don’t want to go on a tangent and explain all the little details, I’ve done that many times already, but yeah, it was one hell of a journey with, you know, the ups and the downs. I think the most important lessons for me were that, that my companies, at that time, they had, they didn’t have strong foundations, that was one key element. And then, of course, I didn’t have strong foundations in myself. And one of the biggest a-ha moment, why I didn’t jump from the balcony and end it all, was the realization that it’s all my fault. Taking that extreme ownership, which I wasn’t doing before. I had an amazing childhood. Too amazing childhood, I mean, that’s not good as well, I was just a spoiled little kid. And you know, what- I never had to be accountable for anything. My parents, my grandparents, were always telling me, you know, how great and amazing I am, and whenever something happened, like, I don’t know, I would get an F at school, “it’s not your fault,” “your teacher doesn’t understand you,” and so on. So, so kind of taking accountability when something good happened to me, I never celebrated because it was only natural that, you know, I mean, everything that I touch turns into gold. But then on the other hand, when something bad happens to me, it can’t be my fault, it needs to be somebody else’s fault. And the thing was, that it was all my fault. And that realization really helped me to, to take accountability over everything. And as much as it was very, very hard to admit to yourself, you know, like, oh, you know, like, it’s all your fault. But then the a-ha moment was, well, if it was my fault, I can actually do something about it, I can, you know, find different people, learn new stuff, and overcome things. And if I did what I did, with all the lacking, imagine what I can do once I fixed those things. And that kind of got me on that right path of, you know, self discovery, and then learning and growing, and it was a long journey. Things didn’t happen overnight. It took me since 2009, December was when everything crashed. And when I sold my last startup, and then repaid all the all the loans and everything, was in April 2017. So that’s seven and a half years, yeah, so it was really a long journey. But I needed that journey, because there was just so much that I had to change and do differently, and learn and grow from it. And yeah, those are kind of like, the key elements, I would say, and working on yourself, working on your mental health, and then figuring out how to really embrace emotional intelligence and empathy. And all of those things were crucial to becoming who I am today.


Sarah Noll Wilson 8:06

There’s a couple of things that you said that I want to go back to. And I mean, one is just to- sometimes for me, when somebody says something that just is really sticky, I want to just say it again, for myself and for everyone else. But when you said not only did my company not have the strong foundation, but I didn’t have the strong foundation, and that really resonated for me both as a business owner myself, but also I see that in so many of the leaders we work with, that they’re going through the day, they’re, you know, they’re focused on the task, they get into leadership and they don’t necessarily know why, or they haven’t taken the time to get really clear about what’s the impact that they want to make, and then somehow are surprised when they’re showing up in a way that’s causing harm, or- whether it’s to themselves, or to people around them. And so I just, I really appreciated that language, of thinking about not only do we need that foundation as a business, because we do need that foundation, but you personally need that as well.


Miha Matlievski 9:06

Well it all starts with you, I mean you can’t be a successful entrepreneur, or achieve success, if the foundations within you aren’t strong, because it all happens within you, and then it starts manifesting on the outside. You just can’t do it other way around.


Sarah Noll Wilson 9:25

Yeah. What- you know, when you, when you’re first working with someone who maybe hasn’t thought about this, right, you might be the person who’s introducing some of these concepts, what are some of the resistance you hear? And the reason I asked that, is because when we, you know, we will see- it’s definitely shifted, for sure, I feel like especially as a result of the pandemic. There are more- or more people talking about mental health. There’s more leaders who are talking about being emotionally intelligent and more emotionally supportive for their team members. And so there’s been a significant shift, but previously, sometimes it would be discounted, or discredited, oh, it’s a soft skill, it’s not as important. So I’m curious, I’m curious, you know, what do you see when you’re working with the leaders that you work with, related to the, either the stories they tell themselves about why it’s not important, that myths, you know, what are those patterns?


Miha Matlievski 10:23

I mean, it’s all of that. And what I see is that a lot of them lack self awareness, which is the first pillar of emotional intelligence. And they really lack that self awareness, because they don’t approach self awareness in the right way. Because you can’t just be self aware by yourself. I mean, that’s one part of the story, where you take a piece of paper and you start writing things down. But then- the very important thing is also to talk with many other people, with your peers, with your family, with your friends, with your workers, shareholders, I don’t know, whoever, like all of those different people, and see whether how they see you, matches how you see yourself. And that’s where we get to the root, to the true self awareness. And that’s usually a very hard, hard problem. In the beginning, of course, then, you know, the hardest part is to allow yourself to dare to step in front of the mirror and just, you know, be naked, and look at yourself. And I don’t mean just the nakedness, but, you know, to go deeper, and really have a hard look. And the work that you do on yourself is by far the hardest, it’s so much easier to see things in others, to tell others what to do. But the hardest work is the work that you do on yourself, it does bring the biggest return on investment by far, but it is very hard. And a lot of entrapreneurs, a lot of leaders, they see problems around them, they don’t see themselves as the problem. So lack of self awareness and


seeing problems. Like my team this, my team that, our employees, our clients don’t understand us, and, you know, whatever, or the government is not supporting, or and so and so. So a lot of men, I mean, there are a lot of things that they see as challenges or problems. But it basically all boils down to that they need to do what they have to do to solve those things. And, yeah, that’s one of the biggest challenges in the beginning, and- because the way we start working with companies is with a very intensive deep dive. And so very often I see that they’re expecting that we will come with a magic wand, and we’ll say, oh, you know, like, just this team building, and that, and everything will be okay. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. And sometimes after the deep dive, they just don’t continue, when they see how much they have to change, and how much they have to work on themselves. But the ones that are humble enough, and willing enough, and coachable enough, well, then that’s a whole different story. And then we can make and create amazing stories.


Sarah Noll Wilson 13:29

Yeah. The- I was just speaking this week to a group of emerging leaders, so young 20 to 22 year olds, for this organization. And they asked me what did I think was one of the most important traits of a leader, and I said intellectual humility, right? That curiosity, but a deep curiosity about themselves. And, you know, we spent a lot of time talking about self awareness. And I, I, this is, you know, why you and I connect so well, is because we, you know, this understanding that self awareness isn’t just experiencing something, and it isn’t just looking at it through your lens, but it’s also that, you know, being able to see how other people experience you, and it’s, and it’s both of those things. And, you know, I’m imagining, I’m imagining, you know, some of the people that I work with being like, are you ready to stand in front of the mirror naked? Because the- because the reality is, is that, you know, self awareness, real- you know, that practice of self awareness, it is so hard, because it means we have to be willing to see, as he pointed out, that, yeah, there may be problems around us, but there’s likely problems that we’re, you know, that we’re creating, that we’re creating that problem.


Miha Matlievski 14:42

I mean, first of all, you have to create a safe environment for people to feel okay giving your feedback. Because if they think that you will react negatively, they, you know, people don’t want to get into those complex situations. So it’s- the first thing that’s already hard, is creating that safe environment for people to really share stuff with you. And then you have to actively ask for feedback, and just shut up and listen. And then you know, like, take it in, sleep on it, you know, don’t go into confrontation, or trying to explain. No, you just, you’re hearing what they’re telling you. And then when you hear certain things from from different angles, then you can start drawing some patterns, and saying, oh, okay, just one person saw this, so, and I talked with 20, so maybe, you know, they see it a little bit differently. But when you hear 15 people telling you the same thing, well, then it’s definitely not them, it’s you, so.


Sarah Noll Wilson 15:47

Okay, so I actually, I mean, I really love that our conversation is taking this shift, or we’re following this, because I think it’s really, really important. I want to, I want to tease out and go and explore a little bit more of of the things that people do, or don’t do, to make it unsafe, because what I see is, you know, we all, we all have this belief about ourselves, that we’re good people, and that we care, and we’re open to feedback. Everyone says, everyone says, oh, no, I love feedback. I love it, Miha. And then then I always joke, but we love it when it’s delivered by somebody we respect, in a way that we agree, and it’s something we agree with, right? I mean, it’s- and so, so I think that there’s- even there I see a big disconnect. And, and my colleague, Dr. Teresa Peterson, and I will be speaking on this idea of how you receive feedback is a real big indicator of how safe your organization is, or it’s a big, not an indicator, but it’s a way to create that safety. So in your experience, I want to, if you can, let’s, let’s get really explicit about behaviors you’ve observed. What are some of the ways that, let’s start first with that people may not even realize they’re not creating the safety, when they receive that feedback, or, or even in the act of asking for it?


Miha Matlievski 17:09

Well, I mean, one thing is, it helps if, you know, you have that warm energy when you sit down with somebody, and I know a lot of high power leaders, you know, like super business-y, and so on, and I mean, when you sit down with them, whatever they say, you know, that you just don’t have that feeling that is of comfort talking to them. So, so I don’t know how to how to learn that, but definitely approaching the conversation with that warmth, and really being the, the human being, being a little bit vulnerable, vulnerabilities- I mean, I know it’s something that was thrown out there so many times, every second post on Facebook at some point, like “vulnerability alerts,” so, but yeah, like true vulnerability, like really, really letting your guards down, and maybe sharing something personal, or something, will greatly create that connection that people feel. I mean, they have to feel that you really mean it. Not just saying, yes, I want your feedback, please give me your feedback, they have to feel it. And, and you can just feel when somebody is really open to it, or they’re just saying because, I don’t know, they have to do mandatory 360, or something like that.


Sarah Noll Wilson 18:38

Yeah, HR told me I had to, so. It, and, and, and, and we have really good bullshit meters. So, you know, we know, we can pick up when people don’t really care, we can pick up when it’s not really important. And, you know, what was coming up for me, as you were talking, and I don’t know that I’ve thought about it in this way before, but if you don’t actually want the feedback, then just don’t ask for the feedback. Because you might actually create more damage by by asking for the feedback and not being open to it not being ready for it.


Miha Matlievski 19:10

Yeah. And then, and then it’s the process of how you take the feedback. I mean, like I said, shut up and listen, and try not to show any facial expressions of “Oh, no, that’s not right, and I have so much to tell you about it.” I mean, don’t take it like that, like really shut up and listen, and then at the end of the conversation, if you have some questions to clarify, so maybe I didn’t understand, maybe something you’re telling me, I can say well, Sarah, can you maybe give me an example so that- because I’m not really sure I’m understanding, and that’s okay. But not oh, now I’m gonna tell you my version, then just retreat, go back. Sleep on it. Take a few days. Let the emotions wear out. Look at it really logically. Gather some more feedback. And then it’s good to give feedback back, you know, like, Sarah, thank you for, you know, telling me this, and this, and this, I really thought about it, and you were right about this, I am gonna work on changing that. Please help me a little bit. If you see sometimes that I, on autopilot, do it again, just you know, nudge me in the ribs or whatever, let me know that I’m doing it again. Because I really want to work on that, I really, that’s not something that I’m expecting from myself. And I would love a little bit of your help. When you do it like that, or, you know, like, Sarah, thank you for the feedback, but in those certain situations, it was absolutely necessary for me to do it like this, and this, this is why, maybe, I don’t know, this is how it should be done, or this is company policy, or whatever. But you know, like, coming back to that person. And then when you do it like that, when you follow the whole process, people will be way more likely to give you feedback, because they know that you’ve listened to them, I mean, being listened to, being understood, is one of the most basic human needs. And so when you have that feeling that I really listened, I went to the drawing board, I had a hard look at things, even if I don’t accept everything you told me, and then they come back to you and give you feedback, they’ll say okay, so this wasn’t in vain. And then, and the same goes for ideas in enter- in businesses. Very often we find amazing ideas with employees, and then, and then enterpreneurs say, well, why didn’t they tell me? Well, what do you usually do when they give you an idea? They don’t think about it. They say no, immediately. They don’t give any feedback later on. And then people just say, well, why would I do that? I mean, nobody’s listening to me anyway, why would they waste my energy on that? And the same goes for how there is a whole process and you have to follow through for people to really get the sense, okay, he really means it when he says I want to listen to your feedback. And then he actually does something with that. And that’s how, then people will be very comfortable coming to you, and giving your feedback.


Sarah Noll Wilson 22:25

There’s so, there’s so much I love, and agree, and just, smiling here, yeah, this is, of course, this is why we get along so well. But there’s a couple of things, just the timing of this conversation is very timely for reasons I can’t necessarily speak to, because there’s some client work we’re doing, but you said so aptly, that when you close the loop, when you follow that process, when you come back to people and explain, and appreciate, and appreciate regardless of what you do with it, you show genuine appreciation, you help them understand what you’re doing. I love that language of when you go back to the whiteboard, and then you show them how you went back to the whiteboard, that it’s not, it’s not in vain. And the thing that was coming up for me, because I see this, I see this so often, I think that when people think about creating safety, I think they think the things that cause a lower level of safety, is huge moments of disrespect, or huge, disruptive moments, or toxic. And those do exist, they absolutely do exist. But it’s, sometimes it’s in the small moments. And, and I’ll tell you, I mean, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in a situation where we may be gathering feedback for our company, or on a leader. And people will go oh, this is great, I trust you, but they’re not going to do anything with it, so this was just really a waste of time. And, and or, or worse, worse yet, they go I’ve been retaliated before for giving my feedback, so there’s no way in hell I’m going to be talking to you right now. It’s nothing personal, Sarah, it’s nothing personal, but I’ve been bit before, and, and I think that, and again, that goes back to the self awareness, is don’t assume you’re great at getting feedback. Like I would rather people assume they’re not, and work to be harder, because that point you made is, and you create that culture where they’ll continue to give you feedback, you know, because maybe the comment they make today isn’t going to be critical for you, but it’s that comment that comes later because they know they can can can give it to you. So there’s just a lot coming up for me as we’re talking about this. I- one of the things that I appreciate about your work, and your language, is that, just that awareness of humanity, of being decent humans with each other, and you know, one of the things that I was, I’m curious to get your thoughts, so this is a little bit different than what we had talked about, but you, when we first started, and you were mentioning just that idea of some- yeah, and sometimes you need to sit, and have the coffee, and you need to have the conversation, and just be a human with your team members. I’m curious to get your thoughts on, you know, from that standpoint of, of building those relationships, and building that virtually, because I think that there’s a lot of, there’s still a lot of people who are struggling with how do I, how do I connect with people, how do I connect with my team in a digital space? And I’m just, I’m just curious to get your thoughts on that, of what does that look like for you?


Miha Matlievski 25:31

Well, I mean, when people are in an office, it’s very easy to have those quick moments, those quick pauses, those water cooler conversations and stuff like that. And when people work remotely, you have to create those things, it just doesn’t work any other way, you have to put attention to it. And be mindful, as a leader that that is a very important part, because company culture is important. Relationships are important, and you have to nurture those things. And what I’ve seen a lot, especially during the pandemic is how leaders were oh, great. Now, I don’t have to chit chat with people or anything. Now, we will just, you know, be on Slack. And we’ll create a channel for them to chit chat there. Usually they name it water cooler channel, or something like that. And they just hope that people will do that by themselves or, and they’re like, oh, happy, I don’t need to have those conversations anymore. But then, you know, after a while, things start falling apart. And it’s because of that human connection and those relationships. So you have to be super mindful, a remote company is a great thing, in my opinion. But you need to understand that you have to lead a bit differently, and put much more attention to the little things, to the details, and create what is normally created in the office by itself.


Sarah Noll Wilson 27:10

I don’t think that, I don’t think in all the conversations I’ve had with people, that I’ve had somebody so explicitly speak to the fact that there’s probably a lot of people who, especially leaders, who are are relieved that they don’t have to have those conversations, and they can just quote unquote be productive, and not realize that, no, part of the productivity is relationship building. And part of, you know, it’s that part of, part of us being able to be effective together, is trusting each other.


Miha Matlievski 27:40

Well, Sarah, I mean, the way I look at everything in life, is that everything starts with energy. Energy, for me is the most essential building block. And so you can have 24 hours. But if your energy is low, for whatever reason, maybe you had a fight with your husband in the morning, and you have a low energy, or you know, you got drunk yesterday and you’re still with a hangover, you have 24 hours, but you won’t do much, right, because of the low energy. And what creates good energy? Well, it’s emotions. Like, you know, you put the good music on, and, you know, maybe it transforms you into your last holiday or something like that, and immediately your energy goes up. And so emotions, and energy, and how do we create those emotions? Well, through human interactions and stuff. And so when when you take care of those basic human needs, you will increase the energy, not just a few hours, but of your whole team. And when you do that, the whole team will be way more productive, way more efficient, things will get done faster, people will hold themselves more accountable, and just so many amazing, I mean, of course, you will always find in every organization somebody who just uses that for, you know, and then just doesn’t do anything. But that, you know, that should then be a reminder for you that you have to take better care of your recruitment system. Not to get those people with, who are not a company culture fit. And maybe they have some behaviors, some personality traits that are very hard to change, and you overlook them. Hard skills, soft skills are all learnable. Well, hard skills are easier, soft skills, you have to practice them, but you can, you know, become better. But personality traits, that’s a whole different thing. Because that’s your, what you brought from your young age, who you are. And that’s something that’s very hard to change. And very often, when you look at companies and when you look at those challenges with certain people, you can see that they were hired out of a super need, it wasn’t proactive recruitment, stuff like that, or our personality traits were overlooked and that they’re just not a personality fit. They don’t share the same values. They’re not a company culture fit. But for people who are, yeah, it’s very important to then create that feeling of, of community. We are social beings, we, we thrive in social situations, and we need that closeness, and all of that. And yet, even remotely, you can create that, It’s more difficult, but it can be done.


Sarah Noll Wilson 30:34

Yeah, it just needs to be so much more intentional, because we just, right, we don’t have those moments.


Miha Matlievski 30:39

Yeah, yeah. And you can’t just, you know, as a leader, you can’t just say, oh, HR will take care of it, they’ll figure out a few, you know, team building events, and-


Sarah Noll Wilson 30:45

And that’s what happens. It all gets- right. Every- you know, I see that of the- things, some of the most important things, a sense of safety, inclusion, belonging, equity, culture, gets outsourced, essentially, when it should, one, it should be everyone’s responsibility, but especially if you’re in a position of power, it’s absolutely your responsibility. And it’s such a missed missed opportunity. I appreciate how you approach it from, you know, that idea of, of energy, because we all have experienced, well, hopefully, I shouldn’t say that. Let me backtrack that, hopefully, people have experienced what it feels like to be in a high energy relationship, or a high energy team. And probably more likely than not, they’ve also experienced what it’s like to be on a low energy team, or one that just drains and sucks, sucks out your lifeforce. And you’re just, you know, and, and that speaks to- boy do companies tolerate so much negative energy in exchange for technical knowledge. You know, like that, it’s just still so damn, like, common, that we get it, and then those people get promoted. And then they don’t understand why people are leaving, and they don’t understand why their engagement scores are low, or they don’t understand why they don’t have the culture and the energy they want. And it’s like, well, you literally keep promoting the people who are actually, you know, again, causing harm.


Miha Matlievski 32:19

I think many companies are just focusing on the wrong things, on KPIs, on hard skills, on productivity, efficiency, on just driving the most out of the employees that they can, but that- in my eyes, that’s just not a long term sustainable way of doing things. And I mean, yeah, and it will become harder and harder and harder. Because if you look now at, you know, young people coming into the workforce, the millennials, the Gen Z, is they’re looking for, you know, the purpose, and the vision, and stuff like that. And you already see all over the world, now many companies struggling with how to get employees. And I think it will be harder and harder and harder. Now, of course, there will be AI and robots and stuff like that, so that will be a whole different challenge in probably a few years, but yeah, companies will have to adopt, and not just put company culture on a piece of paper, and send an email blast to everybody, they will actually- especially leaders, they will have to walk the talk, and not just, you know, do what I say, don’t do what I do type of thing.


Sarah Noll Wilson 33:42

I, I hope that world comes, I mean, I’m ready, I am ready for it, I am ready for more organizations to be in that kind of situation. I, I do, I do want to give a little space to, to the practice that you use, which is- and again, and I mentioned this at the top of the show, but it- there was a couple of reasons that it struck me when you said that you use that, the work of the love language when working with entrepreneurs and leaders. And a couple of reasons, one, that’s, you know, I’ll be totally transparent. You’re a man. Typically, I see women who are driving this kind of, you know, like, work and so that, like, piqued my- well that’s interesting, in the fact that it’s, it’s such a strong belief, you know, we’re talking about, and there can be love in the workplace, and, and I, you know, I have the personal opinion that if you are leading people and you do not deeply care about them, you should not be a leader, period. Period. And I can’t create that for you. You know, you have to find that, but if you do not deeply care about the people you’re supporting and serving, then you should not have the power and authority that you have. And so, yeah, I just have, I’d love to hear from you of, you know, that idea of, of love in the workplace, and that deep care, what does that look like for you? And why do you think that’s so important?


Miha Matlievski 35:12

Well, I mean, I came across that book “Five Love Languages” quite a few years ago. And, I mean, I liked it because it’s really nice and easy to read, it’s not some very hard to understand book, it’s really, really easy. And it does two things. So first, it makes you think about what your love languages are. And of course, it’s meant for couples, and, you know, how do you want the significant other to show love to you, but you know, whenever we are talking about human relationships, there’s different ways of love. You know, you have a way how you understand that you are being appreciated at your work, and so on. And those are all, again, love languages in my eyes. And, and the other thing is then, so, one, you figure out what your love languages are. And then you can also figure out what other people’s love languages are, and you can talk about it. Because what we- what do we usually do even, like, let’s look at just the husband and wife relationship, usually husband shows love in a way that he would like to be shown love, and the woman, the wife does it the other way around. I remember with one of my ex-girlfriends, you know, all she wanted to hear was like 10,000 times a day, “I love you,” that was enough for her. And for me, love was more, you know, showing that you love somebody through, you know, like, I did this, I did that, and just showing them that. And the thing was, she was doing it in her way. And for me telling me “I love you” 10,000 times just didn’t do anything. And for her, what I was doing wasn’t doing anything, because I just wasn’t seeing that I could be lying on the couch, but saying “I love you” 10 times a minute, and she would feel very loved. And that got me thinking, you know, how we do the same thing in the work environment as well, whether that’s with our clients, with our suppliers, with our team members, everything is relationships, everything is that love. We just have different ways of how we feel appreciated at work, how we feel appreciated at home, and so on. And that’s why I love that book. And whenever we work with a company, I always make everybody read that book. And then we start having those conversations, we guide them to have those conversations, because as a leader, most of the time you’re people manager. And when you’re a people manager, well, a good leader is a leader who surrounds himself with people who are better than him at certain stuff. But your job is to lead those people. And because we are very different, you have to lead them in different ways, and show them respect, and all of that in different ways. For somebody, just give them a raise. Another person, while in front of the whole team say, “Wow, this was the work of Sarah,” and we applaud to her. Or make somebody an employee of the month, or- like, different approaches for different people. And the more you take time to really dive into what’s driving your theme, the better you will be at then really getting peak performance out of that theme. I mean, even if you look at our company, our vision statement is to create servant leaders, and that, in my opinion, is a servant leader in service to their team.


Sarah Noll Wilson 38:57

And it’s, you know, I love that so much, and I- I mean there’s a part of me that’s, I’m gonna, I want to use that with one of my clients at some point, and just start to have those conversations, because I think that, you know, it’s, it’s, there’s a simplicity of it, and even if, one, it also gives you language, and it gives you a framework, and it gives you a new lens to see through of, of well, what I need is different than what they need. And I, and that’s something that I see so often, and am so passionate about, is if we just slow down enough, if we just listened, if we connected with people, you can start to see some of that. You can understand what they value. You know, I, hearing you talk about recognizing people in the way they want, it took me back to my last company, and the way that she recognized me, was when she would give me a spot bonus, it was explicit that it was to be used for my next Disney vacation, because she knew how much I love Disney. Now, I mean, I could do whatever I wanted with that money, but I always appreciated when she said, “Hey, I know you’re probably going to have a vacation coming on to Disney, so use this for all of this.” And, and it was unique to me, now, that’s not something she would have done with, like, my coworkers, but what it told me as a team member was you see me, you appreciate- you know, you see what is important to me, you’ve paid attention. And you’re, you know, and obviously, and you’re appreciating me, because those are some just foundational needs that, quite frankly, again, it’s, it is, sometimes it’s frustrating how simple it is to create a really great culture, and how often we get it wrong because we just aren’t spending time on it. And it’s not, it doesn’t have to take a ton of time and energy necessarily. You know, people want to be seen, they want to be heard, they want to be valued, respected, and…


Miha Matlievski 40:56

You can create like, this little routines for yourself, like maybe just, you know, five minutes in the morning, while I’m having my coffee. I mean, it’s not like I have a team of 10,000 people and I need 10 hours just to go through all of them. Like, you know, just five minutes, just think a little bit about what’s happening in their life. Like, even like, just when you come to work then, or you have your morning huddle on Zoom, and just like, you know, hey, how’s your daughter? Or, you know, because, you know that, I don’t know, if something was happening, or just, it’s just these little things. I mean, the world has gone so freakin wrong, you don’t even have to try hard to be a human being, no, really, honestly.


Sarah Noll Wilson 41:42

I know. I mean, that’s an exasperated laugh. I mean, a bit is just, like, yeah, the-


Miha Matlievski 41:47

Sarah, you probably get a ton of connection requests on LinkedIn. And, you know, like, like, when you just see that somebody took 10 seconds, and they just, I don’t know, listen to one of your interviews, and he’s just naming a sentence out of it. And you’ll be like, oh, wow, like, of course I will accept that connection. Because yeah, it’s just spam, spam, spam, and copy paste all around us, and things that are done just for the sake of being done. And you really don’t even have to try that hard. 5-10 minutes a day, just a quick routine with morning coffee or something. And you can do so much for creating and developing way better, and better, and better relationships so easily.


Sarah Noll Wilson 42:33

I love that. I love that practice, and I have no doubt that there’s going to be people listening to this who will go, I can do that. I can, I can give 5-10 minutes to just be really intentional. Because again, to your point, most people aren’t, they’re not managing huge, massive teams. Right? And, and just pausing, and reflecting, and thinking about that. I mean, you can’t help but make you more intentional in how you show up with them. And it’s a, it’s such a great point of, there’s just so much wrong, there’s so much that’s hard right now, there’s so much that’s not working in our world, I think we can all agree with that, that that just those little moments of being seen as a human, and being cared for, is just, it’s, I mean, it’s critical. It’s critical now, and the- it’s such low hanging fruit, too, it’s, like, it doesn’t take much. And yet we miss it. Miha, this has been such a treat to have this conversation. I do, I do want to take a moment and ask you our question we ask everyone, which is what is the conversation you’ve had with yourself, or with someone else, that was transformative?


Miha Matlievski 43:46

Oh, well. I mean, honestly, a lot of conversations that I’ve had in the recent months were with people who had very different opinion on something, or very different view on something. But thankfully we were all grown ups enough to have a conversation about it, and to really do it in a good, safe space. And I’ve learned so much about what’s happening around the world. Because, you know, I’m from Europe, and certain things that are happening in the US are just strange to us, just how certain things that we do here in Europe are strange to somebody from US who hasn’t been lately to Europe. And it was really eye opening in a way where I saw that there is a lot of good around us, and there is a lot of people who are trying to do something good, and create an impact, and it just gives me, you know, like more strength to just keep on going, because you- it, very often you can, you can feel so alone in fighting against, you know, those things, especially if you stumble on Twitter, or Facebook, or some social media, and then you just see all that negativity around you. So it’s- sometimes it’s very hard to, to keep going when you see all negativity around you. But then when you have the opportunity to talk with those people, and even though you have different views, and might disagree on certain things, but then when you look beyond it, you can see that the purpose is very similar. And, yeah, those were some really good conversations, and they really happened because of the pandemic. And I’m really grateful for that.


Sarah Noll Wilson 45:48

I love that. Thank you, Miha. Miha, thank you so much for giving us your time, giving us your energy, sharing your insights. If people are interested in connecting with you, and learning more about the work you do, and how you can support them, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?


Miha Matlievski 46:04

Well, just go to Google and type in “Fail Coach.” I’m still the only “Fail Coach” in the world.


Sarah Noll Wilson 46:09

You are. It is. I mean, it’s- like, that’s a pretty powerful, you know, Google “Fail Coach” and Miha will come up immediately.


Miha Matlievski 46:16

Yeah, and then they can just, you know, go whatever is the most comfortable way for them. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, I know that my team is taking care of all those networks. So we are on I think most of them. But yeah, thank you as well, Sarah, it was, I mean, it’s always such a huge pleasure just having conversations with you. I love them. And so, yeah, thank you for inviting me on your show.


Sarah Noll Wilson 46:43

Yeah, no, it’s such a- it was long overdue, so I’m so glad that you said yes. Our guest this week has been Miha Matlievski, and one of the things that is still sticking with me, is that idea of you need a good foundation, not only as a company, but you need a good foundation. And I think, I think that’s just resonating with me personally as I continue to make sure I take care of myself, and also work to make sure that my team members take care of themselves so that they can have good foundations. So we want to hear from you, you can reach out to us at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com, or find me on social media, where my DMs are always open. We want to hear what resonates for you, what came up for you as you listen to our conversation. And if you’d like to find out more about our work, and how we can help you or your team have conversations that matter, check us out at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. You can also pick up a copy of my latest book, “Don’t Feed the Elephants!” wherever books are sold. And if you’d like to support the show, please consider becoming a patron. You can visit Patreon dot com slash Conversations on Conversations, where not only your financial support will sustain this podcast and the amazing team that makes it possible, you’ll also get access to some pretty great additional benefits. And if you haven’t already, please rate and subscribe to the show. You can do this on iTunes, Spotify, and any of the other platforms. This helps us not only get the word out, it helps us increase our visibility in the algorithms, and be able to invite amazing guests like Miha each week. A huge thank you, as always, to our incredible team that makes this possible, to our producer, Nick Wilson, to our sound editor, Drew Noll, to our transcriptionist, Olivia Reinert, and our marketing consultant, Kaitlyn Summitt-Nelson, and much love and appreciation to the rest of the SNoWco team. And just one big, final, full smile, wholehearted thank you to Miha. You know, we are recording this during a really tough week of having a lot of tragedies in the US specifically, and so having the opportunity to connect with someone who’s so wholehearted, who believes in humanity, for myself is just very, very good for my soul, and I hope it was for you as well. This has been Conversations on Conversations. Thank you all for joining us, for giving us your time, and please remember that when we change the conversations we have with ourselves, and with each other, we can change the world. So please be sure to rest, and rehydrate, and we will see you again next week.


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Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.

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